Everything you need to know about Capping Machines
Capping systems are useful for the high-speed production of a variety of bottles and containers. Just like label machines, capping machines play a major role in a packaging line, but there are many different options to choose from. Here’s what you need to know.
What is a Capping Machine?
Capping machines can be semi-automatic or fully automatic and they’re designed to handle many different cap and bottle styles. For instance, straight line or inline capping machines are great for a wide range of screw caps, like for water bottles and condiment bottles. Meanwhile, chuck cappers are ideal for caps and closures that are more difficult to handle and require cap placing that is straight down on top of the container for best performance.
Other types of capping machines can easily process threaded caps, screw caps, and snap caps, among others. Thanks to automatic capping capabilities, these machines make quick work of everything from beer bottles to specialty products, like caps for spray bottles and cleaning products.
How Does a Capper Machine Work?
You may have watched automatic capping machines in action before, but they often work so fast that you can’t see exactly how they function.
In reality, the internal operations vary from one type to the next. For instance, a rotary capper will need to use a different application method than a straight line capper. However, the functionality of any bottle capping machine comes down to a two-phase process: Cap placement and cap sealing.
Fully-automatic machines will place caps onto containers using either a pick-off method or a pick and place method. The pick-off method uses a highly precise chute to dispense caps onto bottles, which are quickly passing under the chute to “pick off” the caps as they come down. This system is common, especially inline or straight line capping machines and with some rotary cappers running skirted and aluminum caps.
The pick and place method is more self-explanatory and involves a robotic or robotic-like arm presenting a cap for the cap chuck to grab and place onto the container while tightening. This method is more versatile, but requires greater levels of automation and tooling for a range of cap sizes and types.
Once the cap is placed on the container, the next step is to seal it. The mechanism used to seal the cap depends on the machine and bottle/cap design. For instance, skirted caps (like those used on beer bottles) are pushed down while threaded caps need to be rotated onto the bottleneck while the right amount of downward force is being applied.
What’s The Difference Between an Automatic Capper and a Semi-Automatic Capper?
Functionally, there’s generally only one step that differentiates semi-automatic from fully-automatic, and that tends to be the need for a human to deliver the cap to the bottle. Still, the level of automation varies depending on the needs of the operation.
A semi-automatic chuck capper could be a tabletop version where a person is placing the bottle, then the cap, and letting the machine seal the cap down before repeating the process. Alternatively, a semi-automatic chuck capper could also be set up with a conveyor belt, which brings bottles under the machine automatically so that a human can place the cap before the machine seals it.
Semi-automatic capping machines are ideal for smaller operations and for specialized production runs. Meanwhile, fully-automatic capping machines are best suited for large operations, especially production runs that use the same actions all the way through. Ultimately, one is not necessarily better than semi-automation. The best solution depends on the needs of the operation.
Different Types of Capping Machines from IFS
Oftentimes, an operation requires a few different pieces of equipment in order to achieve the level of automation you’re seeking. As such, IFS offers capping machines in the following categories to help you create a complete solution.
Feeders and Sorters
For a semi-automated production line, feeders and sorters may not be necessary if a human is grabbing and placing caps manually. However, feeders and sorters are an important part of a fully automated production line because they prepare the caps to enter into the chute or transfer system so they can be placed onto containers.
Without sorters, caps would not always end up properly oriented, which would make it difficult to place them on the containers. Another role a sorter can play is using adjustments or change parts on the sorter bowl, which allows a capping machine to accommodate different caps.
IFS offers a variety of feeders and sorters, including vibratory sorters, centrifugal sorters, and bulk elevator sorters and feeders. The solution you choose will be based on speed and the types of caps/bottles you’re working with.
Semi-Automatic Capping Machines
For a semi-automatic production line, IFS offers two benchtop models: A snap capper/plugger and a chuck style screw capper. Either machine can be mounted to a conveyor belt or slide tray and operation is made simple thanks to a footswitch. These semi-automatic cappers are able to process one container at a time.
The snap capper can be used for various caps, plugs, corks, and inserts that are placed by the operator. Meanwhile, the plugger can be specifically tooled for the plug or cork you’re working with, allowing the top to be held in a precise location using a vacuum. A V-block is also provided with the plugger to help the operator locate and hold the container underneath the machine.
Automatic Capping Machines
For a fully automated solution, IFS offers seven capping machines, some with additional variations. The main models include a inline screw capper, crowner, crimp capper, inline snap capper, vertical plugger, vertical placer, and chuck capper.
If you need a vertical placer, you can choose between a single head, dual head, and starwheel design. The chuck capper also comes in multiple designs, with single head, pick and place, and starwheel variations.
Automatic Cap Tighteners
To complete the capping production line, IFS offers a number of automatic cap tighteners, and similarities can make it hard to choose, which is why reading through the machine specs and asking the IFS team is very helpful in finding the right solution.
For instance, the single head inline electric chuck and dual head inline electric chuck are practically the same machine, except the latter offers a much higher throughput rate. IFS also offers an inline air chuck, starwheel air chuck, and automatic inline tightener.
Does IFS offer different sizes of capping machines?
With over 700 different types of packaging machinery, including a wide range of capping machines, IFS offers a solution for almost any size bottle/cap with a variety of sealing methods in both the automatic and semi-automatic categories.
If you have questions about a specific size or type of cap, the liquid packaging experts at IFS can offer guidance about sizing, machinery, and what’s necessary to simplify your production line.
Why should I choose a capping machine from IFS?
Aside from an expansive catalog, Inline Filling Systems (IFS) has over 25 years of engineering experience in the liquid packaging industry. IFS machinery is in use in more than 50 countries, and it’s all manufactured and supported directly by the IFS factory in Florida.
The quality of service is unmatched by others in the industry, and IFS strives to offer a turnkey, worry-free installation. With rinsers, sorters, feeders, cappers, sealers, tighteners, and labeling equipment all in one place, IFS is able to create a complete production line that fits your needs at the lowest possible cost.
Warranty Policy for Capper Machines from IFS
IFS follows a philosophy of quality design, which requires each component to be sourced from the most reliable manufacturers. With the goal of producing the best machinery from the IFS factory in Florida, and providing specialized service by the same team behind its design, IFS is able to offer longevity with fewer problems.